Don’t get eaten by a bear!

We have never seen as many bears in the wild as on this trip… 18 so far! We’ve even hesitated to go hiking in some areas due to the risk of meeting a bear on the trail. In spite of the sign, we did do the 9th Avenue Trail at Dawson City though.

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The only wildlife we saw was this curious fellow who stopped munching long enough to watch us go by.

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Well, that’s not entirely true. There were also mosquitoes! Lot’s of mosquitoes! We made two errors that a hiker should never make. First, I forgot my water bottle. I filled it and left it sitting on the counter in the trailer. Fortunately, I’d packed some pop for our lunch, so we were able to stay hydrated. Second, we forgot bug spray, a big mistake, especially in the north! The mosquitoes hadn’t been bad in town, so we didn’t didn’t even think about them until we were out in the bush getting bitten. Luckily, it was a cool day and we were wearing long pants and sleeves, so we didn’t get eaten alive.

Back to the bear sign though. Notice that it says, “BE ALERT MAKE NOISE”. I’ve been giving Richard a hard time lately over the fact that throughout our many years of marriage, he hasn’t been a very open communicator. I know that some of you who know him will find that difficult to believe, but it’s true. I also read that talking works better than carrying bear bells as a way to avoid an encounter with the furry beasts. When we read the sign, I told Richard, “Today you’d better talk to me or you might get eaten by a bear!” In fact, I think a new code phrase has been born. From now on, if I think he’s being particularly uncommunicative, all I’ll have to say is, “Don’t get eaten by a bear!” and he should know what I mean!

Anyway, I digress. Back to the hike…

Beginning in 1898 when the population of Dawson City swelled with thousands of people hungry for gold, tents and then log homes were built up the steep hillside behind the present day town. Today, the uppermost avenue is 8th, hence the name of the 9th Avenue Trail that follows the perimeter of the town, but further up the hill. As the gold rush came to an end and the population dwindled, the hillside homes were eventually abandoned, but there are glimpses all along the trail that there were once people living there. The homes were often built on flat platforms with stone retaining walls. Most of these wooden structures are long gone, but a few signs of them can still be seen.

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There was no garbage collection in Dawson’s early days. Broken and discarded items were often piled up outside the buildings. Rusty remnants can still be seen along the trail offering archaeologists plenty of information about life in early Dawson.

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I’m not even sure what that was, but the bed springs were obvious. I wonder who slept on them and what their story was?

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The hike was not a long or strenuous one. The 9th Avenue Trail itself is only about 2.5 km in length. We made it a little longer by adding the connecting Crocus Bluff Nature Trail which leads out to a viewing platform perched on a rocky bluff overlooking the highway entering Dawson and the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.

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Real date

Since yesterday’s dream date post captured the interest of so many readers, I thought today I’d share a real date that Richard and I went on on a beautiful fall day. We live in a tiny town of just over 800 people. It’s a two hour drive from the closest major city and an hour from a town large enough to have a movie theatre and a choice of restaurants. If we lived in the city there would be a myriad of things to do on a date, but out here coming up with creative date ideas is much more challenging.

Known as a flip-a-coin date or a penny date, this concept is a simple one that works just as well in the countryside as in a city, perhaps even better. Here’s how it works:

  1. Pack a picnic lunch.
  2. Grab a coin. HEADS is right; TAILS is left.
  3. Choose a number. This will be the number of times you turn before you reach your destination.
  4. Every time you approach an intersection, flip the coin to determine which way you’ll turn.
  5. Once you reach the number that you chose in step 3, look around and find a spot to enjoy your picnic.

Since we didn’t want to spend our time driving around and around our tiny community, we drove to the nearest exit from town before flipping the coin the first time. The countryside in our area is criss-crossed with roads, most of them just a mile apart, so we chose a number large enough to take us some distance from town. Though I don’t remember for sure, I think it might have been 20.

We were hardly out of town when we stopped to watch a huge flock of snow geese landing on a pond. It was like a magical dance!

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As we wandered the backroads we passed a few old abandoned buildings including this one, the old curling rink which was moved out of town when a new recreational centre was built in the early 1960s.

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At one point, a right turn followed by three lefts in a row took us in a complete square back to where we’d been not long before. Fortunately, the next flip was a right and off we went in a new direction!

Soon after we made our final turn, we spotted a secluded clearing overlooking a field of ripening grain.

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It was a perfect spot for our tailgate picnic!

Now, with spring finally on the way, geese are flying overhead again. When the last bit of snow has melted away, the muddy roads have dried and leaves are back on the trees, I think we’ll try another flip-a-coin date. I wonder where the next one will take us?

Dream date

A couple of years ago, when our decades old marriage had hit a particularly low spot, Richard and I decided to be more intentional about incorporating regular dates into our often busy schedule. We’ve been a little lax about that lately which has given me reason to start thinking about what my dream date might look like.

I visualize candlelight, seafood and white wine on a patio overlooking the ocean. After a leisurely meal with gentle waves lapping in the background, we’d walk a moonlit beach with warm sand between our toes.

Alas, I am a coastal girl living on the western Canadian prairie, so unless I’m on vacation, that date is but a dream. I’m delighted, however, to collaborate with Turo, a unique car-sharing company, to suggest a way to ramp up that or any other date and take it to a whole new level. I’m imagining Richard and I arriving for our dinner in a red carpet worthy luxury vehicle, perhaps a Mercedes Benz or a BMW, instead of our trusty SUV. With Turo, that part of the date doesn’t have to be a fantasy!

Perhaps your dream date would be entirely different from mine; maybe something more adventurous and outdoorsy. Turo can help you with that too. With vehicles available in more than 4500 cities across the US, Canada and the UK, you could rent a truck, an SUV or, in some locations, even a Hummer.

I was delighted to learn that Turo operates right here in Alberta. I’ve got my eye on this sporty little Jaguar. Wouldn’t that make date night special?

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Disclaimer:  This is not a paid endorsement. Information and image provided by Turo, but the words are my own.

Abundant Redemption… hope for hurting wives

Throughout the spring and summer of this year, I was involved in the process of editing a brand new online course for wives who are experiencing pain as the result of their husbands’ current or past sexual betrayal. Now I am delighted to announce that the course is up and running!

Given the secretive nature of sexual sin, exact figures are impossible to establish, but the numbers are overwhelming. If you are a wife who is hurting as the result of your husband’s sexual sin, you are not alone and I would urge you to consider signing up for this free 30-day biblically based course. You will be assigned a mentor who will walk alongside you and offer support as you complete the lessons.

All Abundant Redemption mentors are volunteers. Each one of these women has walked in your shoes and experienced your pain. Each has received mentorship training to prepare her to provide godly support and encouragement to her students. All correspondence between student and mentor is conducted through the program and via email and is completely confidential.

I would define sexual sin as any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship. That could include adulterous affairs as well as other forms of infidelity including the use of pornography and masturbation for personal gratification. The emotional pain that wives experience when they discover that their husbands have been engaging in these kinds of behaviours is often beyond description, but there is help and there is hope.

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For more information or to register for the course, go to abundantredemption.net. Why not start the healing process now?

If you aren’t in need of this kind of help yourself, but know of other hurting wives whose lives have been affected by their husbands’ sexual impurity, please consider letting them know that this resource is available to them.

No ordinary weekend

This weekend Christians around the world celebrated the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) It was definitely no ordinary weekend, but for our family, it was also no ordinary Easter.

Thirty years ago, a heartbroken young grandmother placed her first grandchild in my arms and walked away not knowing if she’d ever see him again. On Saturday evening, she sat across the table from me at his wedding reception. Her daughter, Nate’s birth mom, was at the next table. This was definitely no ordinary weekend!

Nathan was just three days old when he joined our family but there was already an unmistakable twinkle of mischief in his eyes and he has found his soulmate in Colleen, a beautiful and godly young lady with a mischievous twinkle to match his own! The wedding ceremony and the reception, complete with an inflatable bouncy castle in the corner of the hall to keep the youngest guests entertained, were a perfect reflection of the fun-loving and quirky but also very classy personalities of the bride and groom.

My weekend began with a moment of panic on Friday morning when I woke to discover that the five pound block of ground beef in our hotel room’s mini fridge was still frozen solid! I had a rehearsal dinner to prepare for approximately two dozen people and only a couple of hours until I needed to begin putting it together. Where there’s a will, there’s a way they say, so tying the meat into a plastic hotel laundry bag and dropping it into a bathtub of warm water, off I went to breakfast! The novel defrosting method worked wonders and by early afternoon I had three slow cookers filled with lasagna. (No, I didn’t prepare the meal in the hotel room! We transported the meat, along with all the other ingredients, to one of the bridesmaid’s homes.) Though I never want to be a caterer, the meal was ready right on time and received rave reviews. Once that was over with, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

From the bride and groom’s self-written vows that reflected both the sanctity of the moment and the humour that permeates their relationship to their impromptu dance on the platform during the ceremony, the wedding was, in the words of one of our dear friends, “a wonderful, classy, down to earth celebration.”

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For me, one of the highlights of the weekend was having all my children and grandchildren together in one place, something that doesn’t happen often. On Sunday morning, with the bride and groom off on their honeymoon, the rest of us gathered at their home to be for a relaxing brunch before having to go our separate ways. The Easter bunny somehow knew exactly where our five young grandchildren would be and ensured that there were chocolate eggs to be found!

After cleaning up and making sure that everything was ready for Nate and Colleen’s return, we headed for home stopping on the way for Easter dinner at my sister’s place. It was also a celebration of my nephew’s 22nd birthday and in his words, “a perfect end to a perfectly incredible weekend!”

Our beautiful children: Matt and his wife Robin, Nate and his lovely bride Colleen, Melaina and her husband Aaron

Our beautiful children: Matt and his wife Robin, Nate and his lovely bride Colleen, Melaina and her husband Aaron

Uncle Nate and Auntie Colleen with our five grandchildren

Uncle Nate and Auntie Colleen with our five grandchildren

Five at a time!

I love books and I’m an avid reader but with the exception of my Bible, I rarely read more than one book at a time. Though it probably happened back in my university days when textbooks and research papers were the bane of my life, I don’t ever remember reading five at a time before or since! Such an occasion seemed worthy of a blog post especially since I’ve been thinking about following the lead of fellow blogger, Kari Ann, who posted “Five Things Friday” on her Outside Air blog last week.

So what am I reading and why so many books at once?

Bible

In addition to using a daily devotional booklet that takes me all over the Bible, I’m almost always somewhere in the middle of reading the scriptures from Genesis through to Revelation. For this purpose, I like to use a chronological Bible, one that puts the stories of scripture into the actual order that they happened. I find it so much easier to understand the big picture that way. I’ve read through my New International Version chronological text several times, but this time I chose the New King James Version Chronological Study Bible. I’m not a fan of daily reading plans that take you through the Bible in one year. To me, reading the Bible is not a ritual or a race. I like to immerse myself in the scriptures, seeking to understand what they’re saying to me about how I ought to live my life. I’ve read the entire Bible in less than a year, but most often it takes me considerably longer. With its illustrations, fascinating background and daily life notes, timelines, maps and charts to help bring the cultures and people of biblical times alive, this one could take me two years and that’s okay.

7 ways

I’m not going to air our dirty laundry here, but Richard and I have hit a rough patch in our marriage. To be entirely honest, it’s actually more like we’ve fallen into a sinkhole or gone careening off a cliff, but long term marriages are like that sometimes and we’re working on it. Since we’re both academically minded, we tend to turn to books for help at times like this. He went to a Promise Keepers conference last weekend and came home with this one, 7 Ways to Be Her Hero by Doug Fields. He read it in a couple of sittings so I thought it must be worth looking at. It’s written for men by a man, but Fields acknowledges that “some women will sneak around and read it (and will most definitely get something out of it).” The book, which he originally wanted to call How Not to Suck as a Husband, is written in colloquial man-speak that is fun and easy to read. It’s definitely not a textbook! I read eight of its ten chapters in one sitting last night and all I can say is that I’d like to give it back to my husband and tell him to read it again, memorize it and put it into practice. It’s that good!

Love & Respect

This is another one that I’m hoping might help us through the rough patch. Based on more than three decades of counselling, as well as scientific and biblical research, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich is based on the premise that a wife’s greatest need is to feel loved while a husband needs to feel respected. We’ve decided to go through this one together, reading and discussing one chapter a day. It definitely isn’t as fun and engaging as 7 Ways and we’ve only read the first two chapters so it’s a bit too early to pass judgment but I think it does make some good points and it’s already provided a good jumping off spot for discussion.

Outlaw

This is another one that we’re reading together along with two other couples that we meet with for a weekly time of prayer and Bible study. Sadly, it’s been a huge disappointment. John Eldredge is probably best known for his first book, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul. I have to wonder if he wrote Beautiful Outlaw simply hoping to cash in on the success of the earlier book. He attempts to introduce the reader to the real Jesus by squashing typical stereotypes and focusing on what he calls Jesus’ playful, disruptive, and extravagant personality. He spends most of the first three chapters dwelling on Jesus’ playfulness. While I expect that our Lord did have a playful, exuberant side, I don’t think that a single one of the scriptures that Eldredge uses points to that. In addition, as one of our group so aptly put it, he could have said everything in the first three chapters in three sentences. As a group, we’ve decided to read and discuss two or three chapters a week instead of just one so that we can get through it sooner and move onto something else. My assessment of this one is that it’s just fluff!

Rainbow

And finally, book #5, the novel that I’m reading for sheer enjoyment. When our small town librarian saw me looking over the shelf of recently acquired books, she pointed to The Dark Side of the Rainbow by Caren Powell and told me to try that one. “I thought of you when I bar coded it,” she said. “It looked like an Elaine book.” She knows what I like to read and hasn’t steered me wrong yet. According to editor, Ann Westlake, “The Dark Side of the Rainbow tells of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa – a country struggling with racism, fear and determination.” She calls it “a wonderful, endearing blend of characters, scenery and history.” I’m still in the early pages so I’m just getting to know those characters but I can hardly wait to dig deeper. Caren Powell lived in South Africa for 38 years during the apartheid era and the changeover to democracy. She and her husband owned a farm there and much of the detail in the book was drawn from her personal experiences.

It’s unusual for me to have so many books on the go at once but tonight’s choice is easy. I’m going to read the last two chapters of 7 Ways and then escape to The Dark Side of the Rainbow!

Tangled knots of tension

This has been an eventful week.

On Monday, I learned that my Dad had finally made the decision to seek permanent care for my Mom. She’s 90 years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, she’s virtually blind, incontinent and confined to a wheelchair. Dad has been burning himself out trying to be her primary caregiver and most of the time she doesn’t even know who he is.

I was relieved! I would be able to leave the country knowing that Mom was being well cared for and that Dad could finally relax and possibly regain his flagging health and strength. Then came Wednesday and a phone call from my sister. Dad was suffering from chest pains and she was catching a plane that afternoon to fly out to Vancouver to be with them!

I was already feeling stressed over the delay in getting our visas. This news was almost more than I could handle! Questions and doubts flooded my mind. What was I thinking of? Was going to China at this point sheer insanity? We’d already signed our contracts! What choice did I have now?

I don’t handle stress well. Apparently, neither does my father! His chest pains were not an indication of an impending heart attack as we feared but, as far as we can tell, the result of stressing about the decision he’d made and all its implications. He had lain awake for long hours Tuesday night worrying about where Mom would end up, how he’d get her there, what he should pack for her, whether or not she’d adjust well to her new surroundings and so on and so on until the pain began.

We knew that initially, at least, Mom would go into the first appropriate long term care bed in their area. We prayed that it would be easily accessible by bus so that Dad, who no longer drives due to failing eyesight, could visit her regularly. God did even better than that! Tomorrow morning she’s moving into a care facility just down the street from the apartment building where my parents have lived for over 20 years! It’s literally about 500 metres away, close enough for Dad to walk over anytime he wants!

After more than 64 years of marriage, tonight will be the last night that my parents will spend together. It’s sad, but Alzheimer’s is sadder. In a sense, Mom has already been gone for quite a long time. I’m just glad that Dad will still be able to spend time with her each day and that my sister is there to help them with the transition.

Now, if only the results of our blood tests come back soon so that we can head to Calgary to apply for our visas. Then maybe the knots in my stomach will begin to untangle!

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